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The Trump administration is directing the Justice Department to explore whether it can sue institutions of higher education over affirmative action policies that the White House deems discriminatory against white applicants, The New York Times is reporting.
The Times based its report on a document that it obtained.
The internal announcement to the Justice Department's civil rights division puts out a call for lawyers interested in working on a new project focused on "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions," the Times reported.
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Supporters and detractors of the project told the Times that the project was clearly going after programs that benefit black and Latino students and other groups.
Roger Clegg, a key official in the civil rights division in the Reagan and Bush administrations, told the Times that the project was "long overdue."
"The civil rights laws were deliberately written to protect everyone from discrimination, and it is frequently the case that not only are whites discriminated against now, but frequently Asian-Americans are as well," Clegg said.
But Kristin Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said the project is "misaligned" with the central objectives of the department's civil rights division.
"It would be a dog whistle that could invite a lot of chaos and unnecessarily create hysteria among colleges and universities who may fear that the government may come down on them for their efforts to maintain diversity on their campuses," Clarke told the Times.
The Justice Department declined to provide details.